Maulden footpath reopened at last

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The long-blocked Maulden footpath 28, seven miles south of Bedford, has at last been reopened for the public.

Photo: M Clarke

Photo: M Clarke

Maulden footpath number 28 had been illegally blocked by a fence, animal shelter, heap of animal dung, gate, fence and brick wall. (2)
Alan Bowers, the owner of land crossed by the path, built a house, number 123A Clophill Road, in 1996, even though he knew that the path had been added to the official map the previous year.  He applied many times to close the path, or move it around the obstructions, without success.

In 2006, the Bedfordshire Rights of Way Association, a member of the Open Spaces Society, served a legal notice on Bedfordshire County Council requesting the removal of a wall, fences and animal shelter which illegally obstructed the footpath.  Mr Bowers refused to remove the obstructions, so the county council prosecuted him in November 2007 and obtained a court order requiring him to remove the obstructions within 120 days.

As the obstructions were not removed, Bedfordshire’s successor, Central Bedfordshire Council, took Mr Bowers back to court in 2009 and the judge fined him.

After further negotiations, Mr Bowers removed the obstructions and the council has erected a signpost where the path leaves the road, and a waymark at its northern end.

Says Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary: ‘We congratulate Central Bedfordshire Council for at last getting this route open, despite the resistance of the landowner over many years.  We also congratulate Mike Clarke of the Bedfordshire Rights of Way Association for his initial legal action and for pursuing the council.  Without his determination it is unlikely that the path would have been reopened.

‘This shows that persistence pays, and we are delighted that at last the path may be enjoyed by all.’

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